Cyprus – Citizenship Options

Cyprus at a glance

 

Cyprus is the third most populous country in the Mediterranean. Home to over a million citizens, the island is the world’s 80th largest by area. Close neighbouring countries include Turkey, which lies a mere 70 kilometres to the north, and Lebanon which is located approximately 108 kilometres to the east. It is also west of Syria, northwest of Israel and north of Egypt. The landscapes vary dramatically; with the Troodos mountains, famed beaches and the Pedieos River, Cyprus is home to varied scenery and breathtaking backdrops. With a sub-tropical climate, it experiences very mild winters and summers can be extremely warm. With an average temperature along its coast of 24 degrees Celsius, Cyprus boasts one of the warmest climates in the Mediterranean and as a result it is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-adorned villas.

 

Education

 

Cyprus boasts a highly developed educational system and offers exceptional facilities, both public and private. The brilliant standard of Cypriot education can be attributed to its government prioritising it highly, in fact Cyprus is one of the top three spenders for education in the EU, with nearly 7% of its GDP devoted to educating its citizens. Its only rivals in Europe are Sweden and Denmark, and the quality of its public schools are comparable with many of other European countries’ private schools. Indicative of its high quality, Cyprus currently has the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education in the EU at 30% which is ahead of Finland’s 29.5%. In addition, 47% of its population aged 25–34 have tertiary education, which is the highest in the EU.

 

Communication

 

With an advanced, high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index, Cyprus is a key figure in the European Union and although a great destination for tourists, it is also much more than that. Boasting a rich and divisive history which dates back as far as 10 million BC, it generally follows European standards and for English speakers, communication will be easy as English is widely spoken and recognised by its citizens. Cyprus is so much more than just a beach-time resort; the island is multi-layered, like its history, with a compelling culture, lifestyle and landscape, overseen by warm, hospitable people who are pleased to accept foreign trade and to do commence business relations with citizens and cultures of all kinds and creeds. The two most popular spoken languages in Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, although for those who speak English there is little to fear – English is widely understood and many road signs, public notices, advertisements etc. are also translated into English.

 

Politics

 

Politically, Cyprus utilises a multi-party system but of course ultimate power is attributed to the President, who is both chief of state and head of government. The current President, Nicos Anastasiades, has been in power since February of 2013 and currently has a council of eleven ministers who operate underneath him, each one presiding over various categories, e.g. education, defence, health, etc. The Cypriot constitution, conceived in 1960, codifies the principle of separation of powers and, as such, the executive, legislative and judicial branches are all independent of one another in order to avoid abuse of power. The legislative branch consists of a House of Representatives who are represented by 59 members who get elected for a five year term. The three main parties in Cyprus include that of the current President, DISY, who was elected with 45% of the vote in the first round of the 2013 election and finally 57% of the vote in the second round.

The other two prominent parties are the AKEL, who received 27% of the vote in the first round, and EDEK, who received 25% of the vote in the first round.

 

Religion

 

According to Eurobarometer 2005, Cyprus is the second most religious state in the European Union, falling slightly short of Malta. Approximately 94 of its citizens follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity, while small, but significant, Muslim and Jewish communities also reside on the island. Cyprus is also the home ground of the Hala Sultan Tekke, which can be found close to the Larnaca Salt Lake, and is considered by many to be the third holiest site in Sunni Islam. Both Muslims and Christians have been known to visit the site as part of their pilgrimage.

 

Economy

 

In the early 21st century the Cypriot economy diversified massively and Cyprus became far more prosperous due to this diversification. However, in 2012 it became affected by the Eurozone financial and banking crisis. In June 2012, the Cypriot government announced it would need EUR 1.8 billion in foreign aid to support the Cyprus Popular Bank, and this was followed by Fitch downgrading Cyprus’s credit rating to junk status. Fitch said Cyprus would need an additional EUR 4 billion to support its banks and the downgrade was mainly due to the exposure of Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank – Cyprus’s three largest banks – to the Greek financial crisis. However, after a three and a half year recession,

Cyprus’ economy began to recover well. In the first quarter of 2015, there was marked growth in the economy, and the country’s credit was upgraded. The Cypriot economy continued to blossom; growth of 2.9% was reported in the third quarter of 2016, securing a markedly positive start to 2017.

 

Citizenship by Investment in Cyprus

 

Many wish to gain a Cypriot passport. Possession of one is an invaluable asset; with access to as many as 159 countries without visa and the right to live and work in all EU member states, a Cypriot citizenship has the ability to open many doors. This month has seen significant changes to Cyprus’ Citizenship by Investment program which will undoubtedly make citizenships even more accessible to investors. As before, the Cypriot programme will remain the fastest in Europe, with eligible investors achieving citizenship approval within three months. The Cypriot Cabinet have now also approved alterations that will lower the amount that single investors are required to invest in the country from €5 million to €2.5 million. This amount can be invested in real estate, government bonds or through creation of a business based in the Republic. Furthermore, groups will also no longer have to number five or more investors, and citizenships can be secured for the applicants’ parents alongside their own applications.

 

Background

 

Since the launch of the Cypriot CBI program, investors have consistently been attracted to Cyprus due to the country’s highly sought after geographical location and mediterranean climate. The program is currently the highest listed of any European country in the Arton index of global citizen programs. News outlets have praised the newly simplified process, as the changes will improve the program’s accessibility and will further cater for the family of investors. The tweaks to the program will undoubtedly ensure that the Cypriot citizenship program will continue to claim the European CBI crown and further increase investors’ interest in the country.

 

How to qualify

 

Investment and Donation

 

You can qualify for Cypriot citizenship by:

  • Investing at least €2m in shares and/or bonds of the Cyprus State Investment Company and
  • Donating at least €0.5m to the Cypriot Research and Technology Fund Investment

 

You can qualify by investing at least €5m in Cyprus. The following types of investments qualify:

  • Property (but not undeveloped land)
  • Cypriot businesses or companies
  • Bonds, securities, debentures
  • Investment or participation in public works

 

If a) to c) above, the investments have to be maintained for three years. Where the investment is in shares or bonds, the value of the investment must stay above €5m for the entire three years.

 

Bank Deposits

 

You can qualify by depositing at least €5m in a Cypriot bank for three years on fixed terms.

 

Business activities in Cyprus

 

You can qualify by owning, or owning part of, a company which has paid taxes and other fees to the Cypriot government and which employs people in Cyprus. The amount of tax that must be paid varies according to the number of people your business employs in Cyprus. The minimum qualifying tax payments are as follows:

 

  • If the company employs ten or more people in Cyprus, it must have paid taxes of €200,000 in each of the last three years
  • If the company employs between five and ten people in Cyprus, it must have paid taxes and other payments of at least €300,000 in each of the last three years
  • If the company employs fewer than five people, it must have paid taxes and other fees of at least €500,000 in each of the last three years.

 

 Benefits

 

  • Fastest Citizenship by Investment program in Europe
  • Citizenship only necessitates one visit every seven years
  • Provided their Cypriot property value totals or exceeds £500,000, or parents own a share in a £500,000 property (+VAT), parents also qualify for citizenship
  • No language requirements
  • Excellent and strategic location
  • Can retain current nationality

 

 

 

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Posted in Country Spotlights.

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